On Thursday, June 20th and Friday, Junes 21st, WePAC published a full page open letter in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Main Line Times and the Philadelphia Business Journal to the Greater Philadelphia community about the importance of school libraries and the work that WePAC volunteers do to promote literacy for some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens. Please read and share this message with anyone you know who loves books, loves children or who believes that every child deserves to have access to books in their schools. Click here to read about the Best Library in the World.

Below you will find the letter’s text:

The Best Library in the World

An Open Letter to Residents, Businesses, and
Foundations in the Greater Philadelphia Area:

You Are Part of the Solution

Every state prison in Pennsylvania is required to have a library and a librarian with a Master’s degree, but there is no such requirement for our schools. Next year, nearly all Philadelphia elementary school children will return to a school without a library.

WePAC addresses the problem of closed school libraries by opening and running elementary school libraries using volunteers.During the 2012-13 school year, WePAC staffed and ran 12 elementary libraries in schools serving 5,100 students. We are the only nonprofit in the city providing this kind of service. With your help, we will do much more.

“This is the best library in the world.” That’s what one second grade student said as she checked out a book from a small basement library run by WePAC. And to her it is, because it is the only library she uses.

Ten-Thousand Hours

WePAC asks you to join us in promoting childhood literacy. Please volunteer with WePAC to support students, teachers, and public schools in Philadelphia. By giving just a few hours a week, you can support early reading and make a lifelong difference in the lives of our children. WePAC library volunteers read aloud with children and work in teams to help students check out books.

This past year, WePAC’s amazing volunteers provided more than 10,100 hours of service to school children. Please help us double or triple our volunteer impact next year. WePAC provides these services at no cost to the School District of Philadelphia.

The Fierce Urgency of Now

Nothing is more important to children’s futures than reading. In fact, the chances of a child graduating from high school can be predicted by knowing the child’s reading skill at the end of third grade. A child who is not at least a moderately skilled reader by then is unlikely to graduate. With a dropout rate near 40% in Philadelphia, we must act now. The alternative is unacceptable. School libraries enrich learning and encourage young students to read by making reading fun and books easily accessible. When reading becomes part of a child’s life, a world of possibility and opportunity opens to them.

Dr. King spoke of “the fierce urgency of now.” We ask each of you to support WePAC and our city’s children . . . now.

As a nonprofit, WePAC relies on the extraordinary generosity of the greater Philadelphia community. To grow and to serve thousands more students, we ask you as an individual, business, or foundation to support WePAC’s volunteers and our commitment to literacy. Your donation is an investment in the future of our young people and our great community. Our children need you.

Sincerely,

David Florig, Executive Director

Dr. Anita L. Allen, Vice Provost for Faculty, University of Pennsylvania
Bassam Awadalla, Area Executive, Bank of America
Gene Barretta, Author and Illustrator
Robert Batley, Director of Business Development and Marketing, Nason Construction, Inc.
Dr. Lisa Bell-Chiles, Principal, Henry Lea School
Deidre Bennett, Principal, Lewis Cassidy Academics School
Reverend David W. Brown, United Methodist Pastor
State Representative Michelle Brownlee, Vice Chair, House Committee on Children & Youth
Robin Cooper, Principal, William Longstreth School
Dennis Creedon, Assistant Superintendent, Academic Enrichment and Support, School District of Philadelphia
Debbie Dadey, Author
Joseph Dixon, Principal, James Rhoads School
Heather Farber, Senior Director, Communications & Affinity Partnerships, Energy Plus Holdings
Lauren B. Feldhake, Director, Customer Operations, PECO
Bruce Fluehr, Director, Utility Integration, PECO
Laura H. Foster, President and CEO, Please Touch Museum
Angela Gaddie-Edwards, Principal, Edward Heston Academics Plus School
Adam Gopnik, Author and Essayist, The New Yorker
Lauren Grodstein, Author
James W. Haile, Jr., Vice President, WePAC Board of Directors
Dr. Ann Hartsock, Adjunct Professor, Rosemont College
Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
Judith Hyman, WePAC Board of Directors
Maurice D. Jones, Sr., Home and School President, Henry C. Lea School
Solomon Jones, Author and Journalist
Steve Keleher, Senior Vice President, Radian Guaranty
Beth Kephart, Author
Don Lee, Author
Rebecca Lindeman, WePAC Board of Directors
Elisa Ludwig, Author
Michael G. McCabe, Esquire, Goehring, Rutter & Boehm
Diane McKinney-Whestone, Author
Bernard McNamee, Treasurer, WePAC Board of Directors
Stephen B. Mygatt, Esquire, President, WePAC Board of Directors
Donna Jo Napoli, Author
Reverend Dr. Agnes W. Norfleet, Pastor, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church
Alice Ozma, Author
Marisa de Jesus Paolicelli, Award-Winning Author
Joe Queenan, Journalist, Critic, Essayist
Siobhan Reardon, President and Director, Free Library of Philadelphia
Keith J. Richardson, Managing Director, Philadelphia Housing Authority Development Corporation
Laurie Robinson, WePAC Board of Directors
State Representative James R. Roebuck, Jr., Chair, House Committee on Education
Reverend Dr. Rodney D. Rogers, Senior Pastor, Christ of Calvary Covenant Church
Karen Russell, Author
Becky Sanderson, Principal, Hay Group
Dr. Malika Savoy-Brooks, Principal, Rudolph Blankenburg School
Michael Smerconish, Author, Columnist and Talk Radio Host
Eileen Spinelli, Award-Winning Author
Jerry Spinelli, Award-Winning Author
Alexander Stadler, Author and Illustrator
Gina Steiner, Principal, Joseph Leidy School
Rabbi David Straus
John C. Sullivan, Principal, Post & Schell, P.C.
Jerry Sweeney, President and CEO, Brandywine Realty Trust
Susan C. Taylor, M.D., Society Hill Dermatology
Karen Thomas, Principal, Cook-Wissahickon School
Robert S. Tintner, Esquire, Fox Rothschild LLP
Dr. John C. Van Horne, Director, The Library Company of Philadelphia
Brian Wallace, Principal, Morton McMichael School
Rich Westcott, Author
David Wiesner, Award-Winning Author and Illustrator
Nancy Brent Wingo, Executive Director, Hamilton Family Foundation
Ben Yagoda, Author, Professor

A Special Note to Potential Donors:

WePAC is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Your financial support is vital to enabling us to grow and serve thousands more children, and is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Your gift will be gratefully acknowledged, and we would be honored to work with you on ways to recognize your gift. Your support is more critical than ever as we strive to meet the needs of Philadelphia’s students. Thank you!

For information about volunteering, contact Morgan Rogers at 267.443.3224 or morgan@wepac.org

For information about our library and literacy programs, contact Mica Navarro Lopez at 215.779.8359 or mica@wepac.org; Dianne Williams at 215.990.6428 or dianne@wepac.org

For information about donating or for other information, contact David Florig at 215.990.6084 or dave@wepac.org

The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, 3603 Hamilton Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 wepac.org